A. LINCOLN AND ME

A boy who shares Abraham Lincoln’s birthday muses on what Lincoln means to him. He’s tall and skinny and has big hands and feet, just like A. Lincoln (he didn’t like to be called Abe). “Big buttons on his coat. Big words in his heart. Big hands and big feet like mine” the boy notes as he passes a bronze statue of Lincoln while riding the school bus. When the boy’s buddies call him “Butterfingers” and “Butterfeet” because he stumbles into wet paint, his teacher tells him that Lincoln was called names such as “gorilla” and “baboon.” Lewin’s illustrations are the clear, realistically modeled watercolors readers have come to expect, placed over or against black-and-white drawings of Lincoln. These images of Lincoln at different points in his life make a powerful collage, which Lewin creates with fervor. There’s nothing preachy about Borden’s text, which makes the boy’s connection to this historical figure immediate, honest, and straightforward. It introduces Lincoln with beautiful simplicity to the youngest of children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-45714-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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TREE OF HOPE

Through Florrie’s eyes readers experience the despair and hopelessness of talented actors who were forced to leave the stage to find other work when the Lafayette Theatre closed its doors; the golden days of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s have disappeared into the Great Depression of the 1930s, and Florrie’s father, once an actor, toils at the Allnight Bakery. Florrie’s greatest dream is for her father to be able to leave his job and return to the stage, and so she makes a wish on a tree that grows next to the Lafayette Theatre; it has become a symbol of endurance for black actors, a tree of hope. A director, Mr. Welles, arrives when President Roosevelt orders that the doors of the theatre be opened; there is to be a staging of Macbeth, and Florrie’s father gets a part. An author’s note attests to the veracity of events in the story, when Orson Welles directed African-Americans in roles from which they were once excluded. Cooper’s lavish oil-wash, full-page paintings pay mute tribute to the loss of luster and its regeneration in Harlem, in scenes in which the footlights cast a glow, and in which the faces tell a story that hardly needs words. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23300-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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NIGHT OF THE GOAT CHILDREN

A thrilling story, at once preposterous and divinely ingenious. The rude and awful outlaw Ubo Skald has laid siege to the kingdom of Beda; all the villagers and their stock have taken refuge behind Beda’s thick walls. Although the invaders have so far been kept at bay, Birgitta the Brave, the princess-ruler, is certain the seige will eventually succeed because they don’t have enough food. Counsel from the town elders is futile, for they are a witless lot; Birgitta devises a plan of her own. Among its highlights: dressing five mischievous village children as goats, a dangerous foray by the disguised princess to the outlaw camp, and a goodly dose of trickery that preys upon the robbers’ superstitions. This outrageous story is based on actual events—Swedes attacking a German town, children dressing as goats to confuse the invaders—tweaked only slightly by Lewis (Boshblobberbosh, 1998, etc.), who knows (and then retells) a good story when he hears it. Natchev’s paintings have the delicate and sumptuous qualities of religious icons, resembling the tapestries on which other grand stories have been told, but far funnier. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-1870-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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